© Mats Staub
© Mats Staub

I am still seeking. Yet I have an escort.

I still don’t really know what questions I should ask the one hundred participants of Jetzt&Jetzt (Now and Now) this coming March. All I know is that I will have to ask questions that are specific enough and simultaneously adequately open-ended to produce a whole spectrum of answers I’ll be able to work with effectively enough until August that it will be possible for the guests in the Turbinenhalle to be guided – by the faces and voices of complete strangers – to the elementary things in their own lives.

I am still searching; however, thankfully, I am not single-handedly exposed to the forces of uncertainty and doubt: a book is accompanying me, a voice, that hits notes in the sound of which I can calmly reflect. I always look for these types of books and find them rarely. However, since January 17, 2023, I have been in the company of Orwells Rosen (Orwell’s Roses) for many hours in the mornings.

«»A writer planted roses in the spring of 1936.« This is how Rebecca Solnit’s narrative begins. In Orwell’s rose garden, she sees the embodiment of questions such as «»who he was and who we were and how joy, beauty and hours without any measurable practical result matched a person’s life – perhaps the lives of all people who simultaneously longed for justice, truth, human rights and the attempt to change the world.«

In the mornings, I usually only read a few pages and I may mark up the edge with a dot on occasion if I want to re-read a sentence. I put the book down beside me and as it lies there, I begin to write myself and continue to search in my own words.

Today, on February 12, 2023, I am done with the escort and all I have left is the joy of re-reading all of the sentences I have marked and to transfer some of them into my working journal, so that they provide me with nourishment on the journey of searching, which still continues.

I still recognize many of the individual trees I was familiar with as a child. They have changed so little while I have changed a lot.

«»I remembered that in the first months after the war began, I was strolling through the Jardin du Luxembourg and stopped under an old chestnut tree, which had likely been around as far back as during the French Revolution and had experienced it. I felt like a dwarf and longed to become a tree until peace returned.«

(They) have shown me time and again why it is so important to use care and diligence when using language, talking about facts, bio science and history. They impressed upon me the power one single voice or a choir consisting of many very common people may exude and have pointed out to me that the truly important things ultimately cannot and do not have to be defended by naming them, acknowledging them, understanding them and appreciating them forthrightly. However, those who defend fun, joy, beauty and those moments in life and make sure those that are not productive and whose results are not measurable – the personal, contemplative, deviating moments, that nourish and shape us the same, are just as important to me.

Mats Staub, 12 February 2023